Two of my papers on drone warfare have been made freely available by the publisher:
Ian Shaw and Majed Akhter, The Dronification of State Violence (2014). Geopolitics. Available here.
This article explores the shifting methods of U.S. state violence. Building on their earlier work, the authors focus on the use of drones for targeted killings in Pakistan, but here they tease out the wider implications for the future of “warfare”—particularly the meaning and extent of sovereignty and territory. The authors argue that drone strikes both emerge from and feed back into a series of evolutions in the nature of state violence, centered on the intensely bureaucratic and automated delivery of death. This technopolitical transformation, they contend, is underwritten by the abandonment of “thought” and the ascendance of what Hannah Arendt calls an unaccountable “rule by nobody.” To build this argument, the authors investigate the institutional conditions of modern-day drone strikes, moving historically and geographically to the birth of the Predator drone and the rise of the CIA in 1980s Afghanistan. By studying nonhuman sources of power, the authors argue that today’s planetary manhunt exceeds any direct human control. They conclude by exploring the “individualization” of targeting and its likely consequences for war and law enforcement.
Predator Empire: The Geopolitics of U.S. Drone Warfare. (2013). Critical Asian Studies. Available here.
This paper critically assesses the CIA’s drone programme and proposes that the use of unmanned aerial vehicles is driving an increasingly “dronified” US national security strategy. The paper suggests that large-scale ground wars are being eclipsed by fleets of weaponised drones capable of targeted killings across the planet. Evidence for this shift is found in key security documents that mobilise an amorphous conflict against vaguely defined al-Qa’ida “affiliates”. This process is legitimised through the White House’s presentation of drone warfare as a bureaucratic conflict managed by a “disposition matrix”. These official narratives are challenged by the voices of people living in the tribal areas of Pakistan. What I term the Predator Empire names the biopolitical power that digitises, catalogues, and eliminates threatening “patterns of life” across a widening battlespace. This permanent war is enabled by a topological spatial power that folds the distant environments of the affiliate into the surveillance machinery of the Homeland.